Intelligent Design - The Many Possible Avenues?

(George Brooks) #1

I think the time may be ripe to consider exactly how the Great intelligent Designer of the Universe would accomplish his designs:

One of the strengths of I.D. is that its proponents are said to be fully aware of all the mechanisms that contribute to the process of Evolution.

Principally, this involves three things:
A) crafting a genetic code that will trigger the biological components to make life as we know it.
B) creating an ecological niche that will sustain the created life forms (human or non-human); and
C) allowing for populations to occasionally split off from each other, in the process of speciation, sustaining the processes of Common Descent (with Modification).

But where would God put most of his work? What is the most likely canvas of his design?

Scientists discuss the reality that if a population lives in a very stable environment, with few changes in predators, food sources and weather … the population’'s genetics are not likely to change very quickly. So to drive a life form towards a desired end requires not just proper genetics, but also a proper sequence of environmental factors and changes to these factors, that encourage or discourage various genetically supported traits.

So, would I.D. folks agree that the Dino-Killing asteroid was part of God’s intelligent design to produce mammals and especially humans? It is very unlikely that humans could have evolved in the presence of hundreds of carnivorous species swarming all over the planet.

Ok, so let’s say we find some I.D. folks who agree that an asteroid could have been part of the design context.

Now what about those DNA molecules? Does God “poof” them into mutated form? Does he wave his invisible hand in front of his invisible face, and just “make” the DNA necessary? Or does he use a proxy (like the asteroid could be a proxy of divine will) and sends radiation or some other form of energy into the DNA to change a key pair or a key strand?

@Christy once wrote about how odd it would be for God to influence mammalian evolution by firing photons or particles into the groin of His intended subject! And she wasn’t even speaking about I.D.

But it suddenly occurs to me that I.D. has been given a bit of a free ride… how exactly does God effect his design? How does he produce the stages of evolution he seeks?

He can manipulate the environment (more asteroids! less ozone!, etc.) or he can manipulate DNA. Is it a “poof” ?! Or is it something more scientific?

I.D. folks are constantly talking about how scientific they can be … but I’ve never once heard one of them say God uses natural processes to effect his designs.

Thoughts? Comments?

How can I.D. be scientifically ascertained, if their main point is that God is “poof-ing” all these changes into place?

(Christy Hemphill) #2

Don’t make it sound like that was my idea. That was one of our nutty visitors, and I was telling him it was weird.

(Christy Hemphill) #3

It sounds like it’s time for you to start running an ID comment board, George.

I have no interest in this question personally.

(George Brooks) #4


I thought I made it clear that you thought it was a crazy idea… but I soft-pedaled it with the word “odd”.

I believe the visitor was me! Wasn’t it one of our resident atheists who challenged me with the question, “How would God cause a genetic mutation.” My immediate answer was “Cosmic Rays” would be one way!

And you, insightfully, pointed out that there would be a very specific area that cosmic rays would be aimed at !

(George Brooks) #5


Perhaps you are missing my point:

Because nobody really asks these questions, ID proponents get a “free pass” on the whole aspect of how they would scientifically prove a miraculous event.

I don’t believe there is a science experiment that could ever prove a miracle. And should there be one, it wouldn’t be in connection with Evolution.

(Christy Hemphill) #6

I have no memory of this. All I remember is the guy who kept insisting that if mutations were ever beneficial, then all scientists would be radiating their genitals.

(David Heddle) #7

It is weird. But in a cool sort of way.

(George Brooks) #8


Ha! Oh, yes. I do remember that post! And I thought that the whole issue of where mutating radiation has to be aimed is something I hadn’t ever thought of before. I decided I would probably be quite careful about what I posted along those lines in any future postings.

Early on I was surprised that some people insisted that God would never touch DNA molecules (no matter where they were).


Well, I remember that very well. You said that God could guide evolution by firing cosmic rays at us.

(George Brooks) #10


Yes… and at the time, I didn’t really spell out where his target areas might be …

At the very least, ovaries enjoy the special dignitty of being an internal organ, well out of the way of any literary indignities!

If God can be portrayed as creating DNA out of dust (per Genesis, though not explicitly mentioning DNA) … it seems quite reasonable that God could use electromagnetic radiation (of any wavelength), as well as any other forms of energy, to accomplish his creative design “scientifically” - - just as well as going > poof! < .

(Paul Allen) #11

Does God need science? God is not dependent on anything to achieve his will or purpose. God may or may not choose to use science for his sovereign purposes.

If there is one particle running around the universe - or -outside of that sovereignty - then the God of the Bible is not God.

(George Brooks) #12


“Does God need science?” < I find this an odd way of stating the case. One might ask, in the same vein of thought:

“Does God need electrons?”

If you read the mission staatements for BioLogos, you see that it is a flexible description, depending on one’s own sense of reasonableness, how much God uses natural processes (which He created) vs. miraculous processes.

Does God need evaporation in order to make rain? In terms of technicalities, the answer might be “No, of course not.” But most of us see no reason to be skeptical about God getting full use of Evaporation for his purposes…

The same can be said regarding Evolutionary processes - - led by the plans and goals of our Divine Father!

(Neal Heires) #13

How does God do it?
I was impressed with CS Lewis Miracles, which was first published in 1948. In an early chapter he describes the startling claim by “new” scientists regarding quantum physics and how units of matter he calls it are doing their own thing without predictability - cause and effect run amok. He was a bit startled by this as he claimed it would open up the possibility for the “natural” world to be impacted unpredictably by nature itself (I am paraphrasing). He then passed on the subject and move on as he suggested that perhaps science as an evolving knowledge base would possibly debunk this theory. For ID, it is also cautioned that one be careful because new discoveries could close science gaps and debunk an ID argument.
However, I am going to suggest that quantum physics has certainly not been debunked, and here CS Lewis was really onto something. Quantum physics is the means for God’s hand to be applied onto the natural world.
By the way radiation is a bad thing, and zapping cells not really the way to go about it, but intelligently allowing so called significant protons to bounce around a DNA strand or two to set up a new species would be within the realm of possibility within quantum physics. These would normally be low probability events but, by ID, God by means of quantum physics can do it. How? He sees all future possibilities or probabilities of quanta and chooses the events to create his reality, be it a new species, an asteroid trajectory altered to extinguish dinosaurs., etc.
I am not the only one to pick up on this concept, and indeed I have seen several blogs and articles that discuss this very thing. Perhaps someday, God physics may become legitimate science?


Kenneth Miller has a good discussion of this in his “Finding Darwin’s God”. If I had the book handy I could pull up a good quote. A great book BTW.

(Neal Heires) #15

Thanks for the recommendation. I will look into purchasing it.

(Marty) #16

Hi George! I don’t know if I can stay long, but I appreciate you, and can try to engage a bit.

OK, sometimes God uses natural processes to effect his designs. There, I’ve said it! :slight_smile: But doesn’t that fall under Providence?

Anyway, responding to your original post. Seems to me that often people here think they are discussing science when really they are talking philosophy.

Let’s say I walk into a room with gloves on and move an object from one side to the other in a way that leaves no other evidence. Using your language, we can “scientifically ascertain” that objects do not move on their own. That’s from science. So the owner comes home and will “know” that “someone” moved it cuz objects don’t move on their own. Seems to me that’s the ID logic flow (when it’s done well).

But there are plenty of questions they may not be able to ascertain: Who dunnit? Or the mechanism - did I use my hands, or a tool? Which route did I take across the room? Why did I do it?

Answering any of those questions without evidence is speculation. Whether the asteroid was an intentional act of God is speculation.

When from science we know X does not do Y, yet we find that X did Y, what are the options? A) There is a natural law we don’t understand. B) Intentional intelligence took action.

In our culture, A is assumed. When B is truly the best explanation, argue for A. When someone argues for B, ask them to prove it using only the limitations of natural law (!). This is philosophical naturalism, not science. On these boards I’d rather take on the religion of philosophical naturalism, not the mechanism of B.

Dude! ID has hardly been given a “free ride!” Have you seen the biologos site? Oh wait, we’re on the biologos site… It is truly littered with articles and comments by people who utterly despise all of ID. I suspect many of them came out of or have seen so much crappy “science” passed off as ID, and have a visceral reaction to the term. I get it! For my part, the current discussions of laminin looking like a cross - face palm time. To my point, there ain’t no free ride over here for ID!

One other minor point: Using emotive words like “poof” appears to indicate that you might hold people in some contempt that believe God can act in ways that science cannot detect. But “Divine action” leaves the mechanism open. You want to speculate on how God answers prayer? Or even how he hears prayer (does he have ears)? There’s plenty we just don’t know!

All the best!

(George Brooks) #17

Hey! That’s cool! But yes, of course it falls under providence. Isn’t that allowed? If you think God - - every once in a while - - uses evaporation to create clouds to have rain appear where he wants, then the same possibility applies to using God-led Evolution to (at least some of the time?) produce the plants or creatures he wants.

Agreed! And that’s the rub! With all these speculative possibilities, how does anyone expect Science to prove something about God?

I am quite comfortable with the thought that God sometimes just has to “poof” something into existence … or “poof” it out of existence. But I have no pretension that I think Science can tell me when it happens or not.

Now … as to people despising I.D. methods and writings … Setting aside the most unusual person that Behe is … tell me why you think almost all I.D. experts are Young Earth Creationists in their spare time?

If I’m wrong about this, and that there are lots of Old Earth Evolutionists who have integrated God’s miraculous powers along with the millions of years that Evolution still requires in between miracles … are you one of them?

If not, why aren’t you?

Look forward to batting the ball around while you have time to be here…

(Marty) #18

Hmmmm… That has not been my experience (maybe cuz I don’t live in the Bible belt). But for anyone who feels that’s true, then I can understand more why there is such a knee-jerk reaction to ID. I guess I have been fortunate to see very little bad ID.

Yes! I am convinced Evolution needed help. In general, for me, the evidence supports adaptive evolutionary processes, geographic speciation, long time periods, etc. These are microevolution. The assertion that these plodding adaptive processes could produce hundreds or thousands of coordinated, essential, and significant morphological changes necessary to bridge into radically different habitats in geologically short time periods is a faith position I just don’t share.

(George Brooks) #19


Marvelous! Now there are lots of folks who agree with you who are under the BioLogos tent. And the Big Big Divide between “dem folks” and the “Rest of ID” is that the “Rest of ID” either refuses to say, or they just come out and say:
“No Evolution - Creation in 6 Days” !!!

So Marty, why would someone go to all the trouble of supporting Evolution-with-Intelligent-Design, if they reject evolution completely?

That’s the glitch in the I.D. support system. It’s fundamentally flawed… and it doesn’t matter to them because they already hold to Evolution-with-ID that is 99.9% No Evolution!


It isn’t a faith position shared by scientists, either. We have evidence that the accumulation of mutations behind microevolution are the cause for long term changes which prevents it from being a faith based belief.

As to your claims of coordinated changes, they simply aren’t, and they don’t need to be. A pile of rocks could serve as an analogy. If you randomly dump a bunch of pumpkin sized rocks out the back of a massive dump truck you will get a pile of interacting rocks. In some cases, if you pull a rock out from the base of the pile part of that pile will collapse. Did that take coordination for the pile to depend on the placement of that single rock? Nope. The same applies to genomes. Random changes produce adaptations that interact with already existing mutations, just as the rocks falling out of the truck interact with the rocks already in the ground. Once a mutation becomes fixed then other mutations follow which increase fitness and also depend on the already existing mutations. No coordination is needed.